I probably have the kind of personality that a diabetic needs: Type A. I'm good with systems, and I create organizational structure in every area of my life. I have a system for making dinner, getting the kids to bed, training on the bike. I have compartmentalized everything in my home, including the refrigerator which clearly bears a label on every shelf so my husband knows where to put the tofu, the bread, the nutritional yeast and the wheat germ. Likewise, I'm pretty good at compartmentalizing my emotions. I keep work at the office, challenges in the home confined to the domain of my relationships therein, schedule my son's autism therapies so they don't intrude on the sanctuary of our living room. In the context of D management, I count carbs with respectable acumen, I check my blood sugar ten, twelve times a day, and the last time I missed a workout was the day of my mother's funeral. So, naturally, I expect that brand of order from everything else in my life...only, it doesn't always work like that. Diabetes, in particular.
Most days, I keep my blood sugar in a nice, even, predictable range. Some days, my body rebels. That was Saturday.
I set out at 6:00 in the morning for an easy roll since I was slated to race Sunday morning. The thing is, I felt GREAT. I got about four miles in, and decided to make it a long ride to Boulder, then circle up the National Forest toward Estes Park. I had a few lows on the way - which is not typical - but plenty of carbs in the pocket of my jersey. Some 60 miles later, I pulled in to the driveway with my last Stinger Waffle in hand. Perfect.
My son ran up to me, bike helmet affixed to his head, yelling "Dad said no media! Let's go to the Farmer's Market." Banned from the computer, Henry had decided to go seek out a veg tamale and the last peaches of the season. My daughter agreed, slapped her helmet to her head, and grabbed her bike. My husband appeared in short order, and the four of us left.
In the back of my mind, I knew I should have eaten before heading out again...but then, I figured I could grab an apple at the market were it necessary. It was a short ride, the kids pedal slow... I didn't even have my meter.
You see where this is going. We decided to ride a bit longer, the kids were having fun, weather was nice...
And then I got caught in the net of a low. The kind of low that keeps you barely docked in the consciousness of the space you occupy at that moment. By the time I felt it, I was creeping too close to chaos for my own comfort.
A few glucose tablets and an emergency apple juice later, I made it home. I sat down, trying to get my bearings again, grabbed my meter...and then? 50. Still low. My four year old looked at the number and, without saying a word, trotted to the pantry and brought me a honey stick...an act both awesome and sad all at once.
An hour later, I checked my blood sugar to find myself sitting just under 200. The rest of the day was spent on the roller coaster. I was either high or low, and never managed to find an equilibrium. The whole afternoon was filled with the dust and dryness of fast acting glucose tablets, coating my teeth in a nasty sugary film, or the injecting of insulin to try and bring myself back down to something approaching normal.
It's days like Saturday when, control issues aside, I would gladly cede the responsibility of managing my disease to anyone willing to do it on my behalf. If only I could post an ad on Craigslist, seeking a D Manager or Substitute Pancreas. But it doesn't work like that. Every day, hour upon hour, it's my job. When I eat, sleep, cycle, go to a meeting or take the kids to the pool. There are no sick days or vacation days. So, I do my imperfect best - the best I have in each moment. Most of the time, it's good enough. Some days? It's not.
That's hard for me. It's difficult when my body fails to comply with the plan I have made for it, with the system I have so carefully constructed. It's frustrating and lonely and yes, it pisses me off. And then, at times, my husband will state the obvious: Why didn't you check before we left? Why didn't you stop and eat something before getting back on your bike?
The answer, of course, is that I didn't want to.
Mistakes, miscalculations, missteps happen. To be tasked with doing the body's job every moment of every day - sleeping and waking and working and living - is a heavy burden. Most days, I don't even think about it. I follow the plan, and my body agrees. Some days, the weight of the chore can be measured in glucose tablets and needles and units of Insulin glulisine.
I finally gave up, and spent the rest of Saturday doing this.